You have to have lived in Egypt to understand what I am writing about now. Many foreigners would say that it is a failed attempt to empower Egyptian women, but the few who have spent years over here fully get it.
Women run Egypt.
Even one of the Lonely Planet guides advises their readers to look beyond the macho look of the country and see how women are the ones who make it all work.
In a country with high poverty rates, almost half of the female population who are able to work, are single-handedly the sole providers for their families. This statistic alone is enough to show the burden Egyptian woman carry. Families in Egypt are not neatly made up of a husband, wife and kids. Rather, they also include parents, in-laws and at times, orphaned nephews. At any time, you can find one woman solely responsible for them all. Drama? No, just a regular day in the slums of Egypt.
Many men tell me at the end of the month they give their wives what they have “in their pockets,” and the women handle it. “I do not know how she does it,” one man said, “I just take my cigarette money and give her the rest.” This simple logic is the core of Egyptian society; women make it work.
But they will not be able to make ends meet for long. Food prices are doubling and tripling because of the anticipated new taxes that Morsy is about to issue in compliance with the IMF loan he has been single-mindedly pursuing. He already allowed a tax increase on electricity, water and gas bills. Those who have been paying EGP 100 per month for electricity are now paying over EGP 200 as more taxes are imposed on the ever eroding Egyptian middle class. Egyptian women are doing the maths and it is no longer adding up.
Women over here would tolerate a lot; poverty, abuse, long shifts, all for their children. Egyptian women may have many faults, but one can rarely find fault in their dedication to motherhood. Their pride and joy are their children.
Morsy has been on a killing spree of these children.
In the five months of his rule, over a hundred new torture cases in police stations were documented by rights groups, some even led to death. In Assuit, fifty children died on their way to school due to railway management negligence with one mother losing her three children together at the same time. On 19 November, the anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, fresh brawls erupted with the police where 16-year-old Jika, 18-Year old Naguib and 24-year-old Gharib all died.
After Morsy’s autocratic constitutional declaration on 22 November, fights erupted between his supporters and protesters; 15-year old Muslim Brotherhood (MB) member Islam died after he was summoned by the group to go help protect their headquarters in Mansoura from attacks.
Clashes escalated after Morsy supporters stormed a peaceful sit-in by the Presidential Palace demanding the withdrawal of the declaration. The morgue announced 10 dead—all relatively young men–including a twenty-something anti-Morsy reporter, Al-Hosseini Abu Deif. MB announced that eight of their members also died.
That’s a lot of death in the span of five months.
Women are burying their children on almost a weekly basis now. In our poor country where women view their children as the single reason to wake up in the morning, this death aroma is bound to stir action.
Add to this the continuous flow of young people—12-year-olds now head the front-lines in clashes—to demonstrations and sit-ins as none of the goals of January 25 have been achieved, makes most mothers break into a cold sweat. They are living in constant fear that their children may be shot or maimed and it’s fraying their nerves.
And despite what these women offer the country, they have been marginalized in a sick joke of a Constituent Assembly and completely left out of an even sicker draft constitution. Young women are harassed by Niqabis on the street, as well as men, for being unveiled or not face-veiled. Pseudo-Sheikhs spout out their own twisted version of the role of women—mainly a sex minion and a reproduction vessel—on TV all the time.
So now women live in a poor country where they can no longer make ends meet with price hikes, cannot provide their children with a decent life, cannot keep them safe with the lack of security and stability, are not safe walking on the streets and are marginalized despite their crucial role in running the country. Are you starting to see the gloomy picture?
Egyptian women are becoming angrier every day and there are calls for women to take to the streets next Friday to oust Morsy and his failed government spreading.
The disintegrating legitimacy of Morsy and his brotherhood may require just one last push to disappear; Egyptian women.